World Cup 2018 kicks off in Russia this week, and will most likely be an exceptional experience for most. However, you should be aware of some security and safety concerns that may impact your travel to Russia, including: anti-western sentiment, hooliganism, racist violence & intimidation, intolerance towards the LGBT community, organized crime activity, petty crime, corporate and national espionage and terrorism, just to name a few.
This article holds critical information that you should be aware of and consider prior to traveling to Russia. As always, TAL Global’s world-wide network of professionals in more than 180 international cities and all across the US delivers time-sensitive investigative, executive protection, security and associated services. If you find yourself in need, don’t hesitate to call us for immediate assistance.
Presently Russia is involved in a number of conflicts around the world, and as such, has received sanctions from the international community. This has led to the Russian media portraying ‘Mother Russia’ as the victim, including claims that it is being bullied by the West. This rhetoric feeds into the strong nationalistic pride of many Russians, and as such, could lead to the targeting of identifiable third-country nationals for intimidation or violence. Russia also suffers from football hooliganism, including their propensity to confront rival fans. This is a major concern for many national organizations.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, organized crime groups have exerted a lot of power, and in many cases, have now legitimized many of their operations. They do still control drugs distribution, gambling and prostitution in most areas, and, with corrupt police officers, are able to act with impunity because of ‘The Roof‘, especially away from the main cities. Financial crime and money laundering is prevalent, and credit card scams and fraud exist at all levels. Pick-pocketing does occur in the major cities, especially in crowded places, metro, public transit stations, bars etc. If World Cup viewers wish to gamble on their favorite team and for different results, they can do so using sites allowing pa online sports betting, giving travelers a safer way to protect themselves against gambling scams while watching the games, as for the pick-pocketing and such, that will be left up to you taking necessary precautions.
Terrorism in Russia
Russia has been previously targeted by Islamic terror groups, and suicide attacks have been successful in major cities. The Russian authorities take the threat from terrorism very seriously and are professional in tackling the threats posed. However, the World Cup presents multiple targets across the country that would result in positive media coverage for the jihadists, and show Russia in a negative light (Russian activity in Syria may be a catalyst for terrorist behavior).
Risk Reduction Actions
- Be aware of your surroundings and any evolving situations.
- Practice situational awareness.
- Be mindful that open display of flags or team colors may identify you for intimidation or violence.
- Be attentive of cultural intolerance and how your actions may be viewed.
- Be careful using debit cards & credit cards. Credit cards are more secure, and carrying small amounts of cash is sensible as not every business will accept electronic payments.
- Do not venture aware from open/known public areas and spaces.
- Take care and be alert of pickpockets when using public transportation systems or in crowded places.
- Consider the amount of personal and sensitive information you are taking with you. The rule of thumb should be to take only what is essential for your trip, and leave the rest at home.
- Pre-plan all internal travel; use reputable travel agencies, avoid driving unless absolutely necessary; do not drink and drive (even if others do).
- Ensure you have appropriate travel insurance to cover the trip, including medical cover which can be expensive if paying direct.
- Keep up to date with your governmental travel advice.
- If a terrorist incident were to happen in your vicinity, make your way to a place of safety and be aware on the developing situation. When safe to do so make your way back to your hotel.
We hope you have a fantastic time traveling to the World Cup, or elsewhere in the world. Should you ever find yourself away from home and in need of assistance, please don’t hesitate to call us.
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